Theft case filed after 100 kg gold kept under CBI’s lock and key goes missing

Acting at the behest of the Madras High Court, the CB-CID in Chennai has registered a case in connection with the “missing 100 kg of gold” seized by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) during a raid on an importer in 2012.

On a complaint by C Ramasubramaniam, insolvency professional and liquidator, a case was registered under section 380 (theft) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on December 23, said a senior CB-CID official on condition of anonymity.

The 103.8 kg gold, worth Rs 30 crore, is part of 400.47 kg in bullion and ornaments seized by the CBI when it carried out searches at the premises of Surana Corporation Ltd in Chennai in 2012. The gold was kept in safes and vaults of the Surana Corporation under the CBI’s lock and seal.

On the Madras High Court’s directions, the CBI said, the vaults were opened in the presence of the official liquidator, Surana Corporation and banks’ representatives and inspected from February 27 to 29 and found that there was only 296.6 kg of gold.

The case of the missing gold became public knowledge earlier this month when the Madras High Court was hearing a petition filed by Surana Corporation’s liquidator, Ramasubramaniam, seeking a direction to the CBI to handover the remaining 103.8 kg gold.

The CBI told the court that it had handed over 72 keys of the safes and vaults to the principal special court for CBI’s cases in Chennai.

“This court is unable to state with certainty that they have handed over the keys,” said Justice PN Prakash and ordered a CB-CID probe into the case on December 11 much to the embarrassment of the CBI.

The following day, the CBI released a statement clarifying its role.

“The inventorised gold was not kept in Malkhana of the CBI. Rather it was in the premises of Surana only under the seal,” the investigating agency’s statement read.

“While the enquiry was on, the petition was filed in the high court. The CBI’s internal enquiry continues and if any adverse role of any CBI official surfaces, strict action will be taken against them,” said the agency.

During the seizure, the gold bars were bunched while weighing but while handing over to the liquidator, appointed for a settlement of debts between Surana and CBI, it was weighed individually and that was the reason for the discrepancy, the CBI had claimed.

During the course of the investigation the CBI concluded that the gold did not have a bearing on a corruption case, and that it had, however, been imported in violation of the Foreign Trade Policy (FTP). While prosecuting the case, the CBI accused officials of Minerals & Metals Trading Corporation of India (MMTC) of showing undue favour to Surana in importing gold and silver.

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